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House Agenda Unveiling Postponed

Citing a desire to maintain strict focus this week on the House debate over the Iraq War and President Bush’s proposed troop increase, Democratic leaders have put an expected announcement of a new long-term agenda on hold.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had anticipated rolling out the new program this week, but Democratic sources said the agenda will not be unveiled until after Congress returns from next week’s Presidents Day recess.

“We will be focused on Iraq this week,” Hoyer said Tuesday afternoon, after the House had begun its three-day debate on a nonbinding resolution condemning Bush’s proposal to deploy more than 21,000 additional troops to Iraq.

The agenda would be the first major outline of the majority’s plans since completion of its “100 hours” program in the first weeks of the 110th Congress.

Democratic leaders have declined to offer details on the new plan but said last week that it will not be an itemized blueprint. Instead it will feature “guideposts,” serving as a broad outline of the goals the new majority hopes to complete over the next six months.

In the meantime, Hoyer asserted that the House will move ahead with other legislation, including efforts to address the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast — one of the issues Democrats are expected to target under the new agenda — as well as annual measures including the federal budget and spending bills.

In addition, Congress still must complete work this week on a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year, with the current measure set to expire Feb. 15.

While the House has approved its version of the bill, the Senate is not expected to vote on the measure until Thursday.

Should the Senate not complete its work by the deadline, Hoyer said Tuesday at his weekly press briefing, the House may remain in session into the scheduled recess.

“We will have to deal with the continuing resolution and therefore we will be here longer than Friday,” he said.

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